Watson/Lister ready for Targa challenge
- 1st April 2009, 1:47pm
Watson was deputy clerk of course in 2008, while Lister has been the eventâ€™s Course Checker for eight years. They have also teamed up in the 00 safety car since 2001.
But in 2009 the pair will switch from being officials to competitors â€“ the first time either of them has entered the event.
Back in February they contested Targa Wrest Point as a shakedown, and after a successful event in their 2004 VW Golf R32, they are targeting a strong finish in the Showroom Category.
Fifty-five year old Watson runs his own business, while Lister is a retired telecommunications specialist who now devotes his time to organising rallies, mainly in his native Victoria.
â€œWeâ€™d like to finish on the podium in the Showroom class, but we may have to rely on a high attrition rate to achieve that,â€ Watson admits. â€œIt will be great to compete on the magnificent Tasmanian roads for once, rather than driving the 00 car, which Stuart and I have done for the past eight years.â€
They will not use pacenotes on the event, electing to drive the event â€˜blindâ€™ off the road book, however given their knowledge of the stages, gained over the past eight years, youâ€™d expect that they probably wonâ€™t be hindered by that choice.
â€œI decided I wanted to enjoy the drive, and not be bombarded with detail,â€ Watson adds. â€œI accept that this will slow us up a bit, but it will make our event more enjoyable.â€
Having driven the course car for so many years, the pair are used to late nights and early rises during Targa. But this year, as competitors, theyâ€™re looking forward to a more â€œcivalisedâ€ rally.
Their Showroom Golf R32 has competed in Targa in 2005 and 2007 with a different owner, before Watson purchased the car last year.
As the Showroom rules dictate, the car has very few modifications, aside from improved tyres, shock absorbers, a computer chip for the engine, and the required safety items. In fact it still has all the showroom items, such as leather seats, air conditioning and a 6-stack CD player â€“ just the ticket for those long transport stages.
The Golf runs a normally aspirated 3.2 litre, V6 engine which produces 250 brake horsepower. The power is put to the ground via a six-speed manual gearbox, and four-wheel drive. It might not produce the power of the Lancer Evos that it will be up against, but it sounds great and adds a different flavour to the Showroom field.
With support from Ambulance Private (Watsonâ€™s business), Dâ€™Eco Design, Bocchino Motors and European Technology Bodyworks, Watson and Lister are determined to get to the finish of Targa Tasmania â€“ something they have never failed to do in the past.
This time, however, they hope to be accepting silverware at the end of the six-day marathon.
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